Henry Felton (1679-1740) was educated at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. The Dissertation was first published in 1713 and quickly ran through several editions.
From A Dissertation on Reading the Classics (1713), pp. 222-3:
…For though I think Spencer and Shakespeare as great Genius's as ever were produced in Rome or Athens, they will not bear a strict Comparison upon all the Beauties of Writing. Milton, alone, in Epic Writing hath transcended the Greek and the Latin Poet: He hath excelled the First in the Force and Richness of Imagination; and hath rivalled the Last in Justness of Thought, and Exactness of the Work. Spencer may, perhaps, dispute the Pastoral, even with Theocritus, for I dare prefer him to Virgil, and in him alone the Sweetness and Rusticity of the Doric Muse was to be found, till of late Years some happy Genius's among our selves have assembled all the Beauties of Arcadian Poetry, and restored their Simplicity, Language, and Manners, to the Swains.
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Publication information: Book title: Edmund Spenser, the Critical Heritage. Contributors: R. M.Cummings - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 246.
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